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Our Commitment July 08, 2020

McCormick Partners with Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund: Doing our Part for The Future of Flavor

Restaurants impacted by COVID-19; McCormick & Company COREcares Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund


The coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected every industry across the world. But, with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders keeping people from eating out, the restaurant and foodservice businesses have been greatly impacted. A survey from the National Restaurant Association showed that more than 8 million restaurant employees had been laid off or furloughed since the beginning of the coronavirus. On average, restaurant and foodservice sales were down more than 80 percent in each segment.

And in Maryland, the state that McCormick & Company has called home for more than 130 years, the impact to local restaurants and foodservice providers has been no exception. As Hempen Hill BBQ co-owner Kathy Reeder put it, “COVID-19 hit us like a freight train. It rolled, rammed into the back of you, and kept going…leaving you there floundering to figure it out.” 

McCormick has a proud legacy of serving people; the communities where we live, work, and source; and the planet we share. And right now, we’re doing our part to give back. That’s why OLD BAY, McCormick For Chefs, and the COREcares Foundation teamed up to introduce the Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund.

The fund is offering up to $2,500 in grants to independent restaurants and bars directly affected by the pandemic in the state of Maryland. OLD BAY and McCormick For Chefs started the fund with a $100,000 donation. All funds raised have gone directly to the restaurant and foodservice operators. 

McCormick Stands Together with Our Restaurant Communities

The National Restaurant Association says that looking ahead, most restaurant operators do not think their businesses will return to normal during the next several months. At McCormick, we want to do everything we can to ensure that they can thrive for generations.

“We remain deeply committed to supporting our local restaurant community during this difficult time,” said Bjoern Leyser, Vice President Sales and Marketing at McCormick For Chefs. “Operators are treading a tightrope as some restaurants are forced to close or flip their business model, but we know the foodservice industry is resilient and that together we will persevere.”

The path to recovery is not yet clear, but our commitment to a healthy future is. No matter what happens, we stand together with our restaurant communities.

The Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund Grant Recipients

To date, the Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund has been able to help nearly 100 local businesses, one of which was Reeder’s Hempen Hill BBQ in Hagerstown. As an OLD BAY enthusiast who incorporates the iconic Maryland flavors into the BBQ menu, she was thrilled to receive a grant from the Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund. Unfortunately, the aftermath of the coronavirus has led Reeder and the Hempen Hill BBQ team to close their dine-in restaurant for good. But the grant has aided the team in continuing their catering business.

Brendon Hudson, owner and chef of Liliahna, a Hunt Valley-based catering business, says the pandemic has put his plans to open a brick and mortar restaurant to a halt. But thanks to the Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund, Hudson was able to provide support to his full-time employees.

“The COREcares Foundation and the Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund has helped my business survive this pandemic,” he said. “Without their support, I am not sure that I would have been able to keep on my employees, who mean the world to me.”

Another grant recipient, Baltimore’s La Cuchara, tried their hands at curbside pickup, but quickly realized they could serve a different need. “When COVID-19 hit, I think everyone was a little shaken,” said Amy Lefenfield, CFO and Chief Administration Officer of La Cuchara. “A lot of people couldn't go to the grocery store in the first month or so, and they were without protein and produce. We were still receiving our distribution orders, so we decided to open a produce market for people in the neighborhood to buy fresh food.”

Lefenfield says the grant from the Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund helped La Cuchara to operate the curbside Marketplace at affordable prices; offering neighbors fresh produce, bread, seafood and meat options in a no-contact setting. “We plan on operating the curbside market place as long as we can,” says Lefenfield. “There are a lot of challenges, but we’re taking this day by day.” 

We Stand for The Future of Flavor 

As a global leader in flavor, McCormick believes that flavor has the potential to improve lives and the world. We’re standing together with our local restaurants and catering businesses to ensure that future generations can thrive. If you’re able, please join us in supporting our local restaurants. One hundred percent of the funds raised go directly to Maryland restaurant operators, so the more money we raise, the more restaurants we can help. 

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